Downward spiral: how addiction decimated a Wyoming family1 month, 30 days ago
The nations suicide rate is three times “the member states national” average and 16% of its people experience alcoholism or addiction. Alexs family are the faces behind the figures
Alex remembers taking his wife to ensure a psychic. The clairvoyant came highly recommended by her doctor. Danielle was struggling. Pete, her son from a previous relationship, had killed himself in 2004. He was merely 13.
Alex drove 180 miles west from Rock Springs, Wyoming, where the couple lived, to Rainbow Gardens in Ogden, Utah. They drove through Sweetwater Countys extraterrestrial rock formations, its oil and gas fields, its mines. There was nothing to consider for miles but sage-covered high desert, a landscape of stark beauty and eerie desolation.
The clairvoyant told them that some peoples spirits were solitary, and that other people occupy and leave this world in clans. Pete wouldnt have learned anything new in this life, the clairvoyant continued. He needed to die and wait for his clan to succumbs so they could all start life over with him.
In the years that followed, one after another of Alexs clan died.
Danielles sister died from a prescription drug overdose in 2009. In 2015, Danielle died, following 15 years of opioid addiction, and that same year, her mother succumbed to complications related to alcohol abuse.
For years now, the US has been engulfed in an unprecedented epidemic. Americas white suicide rate is the highest it has been in 30 years, with Wyoming resulting at three times the national average. While the life expectancy of Americans of coloring has increased endlessly, the mortality rate of non-Hispanic, middle-aged whites particularly those with little formal education has risen dramatically.
In Wyoming, the number of people with diabetes has risen steadily, and heart disease is expected to affect four times as many people in 2030 as in 2010. The Center for Integrated Behavioral Health Policy, a research center based at George Washington University, estimates that more than 16% of Wyomingites suffer from alcoholism and addiction to illicit drugs.
But Wyoming is not alone with this problem: the national median is just under 14%. One change is, however, that in the second least populated country in the US, mental healthcare can be hard to come by. Wyoming has one of the lowest number of psychiatrists and the fewest child and adolescent psychiatrists per capita.
The hypothesis surrounding the causes of addiction are differed: childhood abuse and forget, trauma, mental illness and incarceration of a mother are often blamed. Experts point to the role of epigenetics, the inheritability of genetic code and gene expres. Inner isolation and the lack of a supportive community also appear to play a role. Family systems are more fragmented today than the latter are 50 years ago, and the church, which used to be the center of peoples communal and spiritual life, has lost its importance for many Americans.
Addiction and suicide are democratic, swallowing up individuals across all education and income levels. Americas medical and mental healthcare and Veteran Administration systems are struggling to address problems that may have been averted by strong family and community systems in the past. The narrative of Alex and his family illustrates how a series of tragic events can snowball to claim an entire household. Suicide, mental illness and craving are never due to merely one cause; they are the results of a perfect storm.